June 28, 2011
I finished a quilt! It’s not a big quilt, not even as big as a baby quilt. It is just about the right size for the space it was made for: our television. The quilt attaches to a mounting bracket Mr. Karen made and covers the big blank screen when we’re not watching it.
I’m especially happy to have finished this one since it’s been in my head for so long. I didn’t realize how long until I searched my past entries for mention of it; the first one turned up in August 2008. I didn’t start on it for quite some time after that, at least a year but probably much longer. I do know that in February of this year, I’d pulled most of the fabrics I’d eventually use, but even then I didn’t really get going on it until April. Here’s what it looked like on April 27th:
The germ that started this was seeing a quilt in one of the books by Magaret and Slusser (Watercolor Impressions, probably, but it might have been Watercolor Quilts) that used the batik panel with the palm trees and people as a focal point and built a colorwash of squares around it. I’d done colorwash quilts before, so I went chunkier with this one, having more contrast between the squares in some areas. And because the one little panel would have looked lost in the sea of squares I’d need to cover the space I had to fill, I added two other panels, both screen prints on batik backgrounds. I bought the one on the left in the finished quilt in Alaska when Mr. K and I went on the land/sea tour with his parents. (For this project, I wished it had a lighter background so the fireweed printed on it showed up more; that hesitation is why it doesn’t appear in the in progress shot—I was searching for something that fit in better, but eventually sentimentality won over art.) The one on the right I’m less certain about (if I’d kept up my fabric inventory records I’d know, but I’d rather play with the fabric than document it), but I’m pretty sure I bought it from a quilt show vendor back when Mom and I were still going to a big quilt show every year.
My original vision just had the panels and lots of squares, including many cut from a black screen print with a bright multi colored background. The more of the quilt I got laid out on the felt wall, the less that black and bright print fit in, so I pulled all those squares out. When I got a whole design up with the panels and new squares, it didn’t quite please me, so I went back into the stack of fabrics I’d collected from my stash early on and found a bold batik with big fish on it that pulled everything together. There are no fish in the panels, but there is water in the center one, and little fish in some of the squares, so the big fish made sense to me.
After I had the center all sewn together, I held it up to the tv to figure out how wide the borders had to be and found that the same width as the squares would work, which was quite serendipitous, as that meant I could insert leftover squares in the long sides of the border and make the piecing look intentional rather than as if I didn’t have enough yardage of my chosen border fabrics to do them in one long strip (I did not, in fact, have enough yardage). For the quilting, I did a few straight anchoring lines in the ditch between sections, then did wavy lines across the width of the center in a few colors of rayon thread plus a couple colors of metallic. The waves echo the stairstep arrangement of the big fish rectangles, and are more closely spaced at the top and bottom than in the middle so the panel designs stand out a bit. I quilted the border with three evenly spaced straight lines, each in a different color of rayon thread that I’d already used in the middle section.
When I’d decided on the border, I’d assumed I’d do my usual binding, which adds a bit of width. When it came time to do the binding, however, I balked at that. I’d used three different fabrics in the borders and was having trouble finding one fabric that would look good as binding next to all of them, plus I rather liked the look of the quilt just as it was, without another design element being added when the binding went on. I couldn’t wrap the top of the quilt around to the back to finish the edges because then the quilt would be too small to cover the tv screen. I turned to my friend the Internet for help, and soon found a tutorial on knife edge binding, also known as facing the quilt. I’d never tried this before, and had the added challenge of needed to attach Velcro to the top edge, but between the directions on that website, a tip from Melody Johnson’s blog to fuse the facing to the back of the quilt rather than sewing it, my notes from the class I took when I got my Bernina, and some creativity on my part, I got it done and am really pleased with how it turned out. This finishing technique did eat up a bit of my border width, so the quilt is a smidge smaller than I’d planned, but it’s not so small that it doesn’t cover the whole tv screen, so that’s fine.
(There are plenty more photos of this project here.)